In our latest round of cooker hood testing, we took products from Elica, Ikea, Siemens and Zanussi to the lab to find out whether they were up to the task of extracting moisture, grease and odours from your kitchen.
Our latest batch was varied when it came to designs, including canopy hoods that sit flush with the underside of wall units, which are great for smaller spaces, and an island hood that hangs down from the ceiling and is ideal for large hobs.
But we found noticeable differences when it came down to the performances of different kitchen extractor hoods, with some doing a great job at leaving a kitchen pristine, and others struggling to scoff up gasses and aerosolised (airborne) grease.
As you cook, quantities of grease become vaporised and they float freely in the air. If you don't extract the moisture in the kitchen and trap grease residue in your cooker hood, then you'll end up with sticky deposits around your kitchen, particularly in high up places.
To test how well a cooker hood is able to extract grease, we turn it to its highest setting and fry 44g of vegetable oil in a pan for 30 mintes. We do this under test conditions, so it's always the same amount of oil in the same position, fried in the same way.
We leave the cooker hood on for an extra 10 minutes, then we check to see how much grease is captured in its filter by weighing it.
We then award a star rating depending on performance - a well-rated cooker hood will have successfully pulled aerosolised grease into its trap, while a sub-standard product will leave the air polluted.
Consistent with our grease-extraction test, there was a notable difference in performance when it came to extracting moisture from the kitchen as well.
A cooker hood that doesn't extract steam effectively will cause your kitchen to become humid and damp. In the winter, you'll be flinging open your windows and letting the heat escape, despite having an extractor fan working at full tilt.
Kitchens are social spaces designed for people to congregate and chat over a cup of tea. Loud appliances that annoy and drown out chatter can really grate over time.
We test the noise of cooker hoods - not just the amount of decibels they produce, but also the quality of the noise. We think there's an important difference between a steady white noise and an abrasive cacophony.
We do this by setting them at their maximum, then measuring their noise from one metre away. For the more subjective assessments of sound quality, a panel of expert assessors come to a consensus.
There's a strong correlation between cooker hoods that extract grease well and cooker hoods that extract steam well. But we have found that even good cooker hoods - including a Best Buy from our latest testing - can make a racket.
We give every cooker hood a star rating out of five to help you find your ideal model. We think that a really good Best Buy is worth a purchase even if it makes a ruckus, but its performance elsewhere has to be exceptional to make up for it.
We've just tested 10 cooker hoods from some of the biggest brands in the market.